Last month we ran an in person networking event about how to help your (neuro) diverse team thrive. Our guest speaker was Anj Cairns, who shared her story of her ADHD diagnosis. Anj penned this guest blog for us in response to the worries that attendees told her about.
We asked attendees, ‘What are your worries about a colleague disclosing they have ADHD or another neurodivergence?
Attendees told us ‘Saying or doing the wrong thing, asking too many questions, how to support someone.‘
We asked attendees, ’What are your worries about disclosing ADHD or another neurodivergence to a colleague?
Attendees told us, ‘Being judged negatively, undermining their credibility, feeling vulnerable‘
Let’s face it, we’ve all at some point in our lives said the wrong thing. The important thing is you intend to get it right. However, there are somethings you can do to make this easier.
Begin by thanking the individual for sharing their neurodivergent status, you can recognise the courage it takes to open up about it in a work environment.
Be honest and open
If you don’t know very much about their ADHD/Autistic Spectrum Condition/Dyslexia/Dyspraxia/insert other neurodivergences, it’s perfectly fine to admit it. Honesty fosters understanding and sets the stage for a more open conversation.
Embrace a learning mindset
Share your willingness to learn by asking if there are any resources your colleague recommends. This not only shows your commitment to understanding their perspective but also adds to your own knowledge.
Clarify preferred terminology
If you’re unsure about the language to use, ask about their preferred terms. This simple step ensures respectful communication and helps create an inclusive environment.
Ask how you can be supportive
Recognise that someone newly diagnosed may be processing their experience and getting to know their brain again. Ask about what specific support or accommodations they may find helpful, showing your commitment to their well-being. If they don’t know now, reassure them that they can talk to you in the future.
Highlight Access to Work
Make them aware of Access to Work, the government scheme to support people with disabilities to stay in work. Coaching, equipment & software, support workers and even support with travel to work are ways that funding from the scheme helps ADHDers and other neurodivergent people.
Consider workplace awareness training
Explore the possibility of workplace awareness training for your team. Being proactive can help build an inclusive culture and means individuals are not singled out unnecessarily.
Getting a diagnosis of ADHD or other neurodivergence can feel like being on a rollercoaster with no seatbelt – it’s thrilling, terrifying and you don’t know when the next sharp bend is going to appear. Many people, but not all, start on medication. It can take months to get this right and for some medication doesn’t work at all. Your colleagues are dealing with a lot and this may also be new for you so remember to be kind to yourself too.
Diagnosed with ADHD aged 51, Anj Cairns departed a long career as a charity CEO. She trained as an ADHD coach and developed a hybrid career focused on bringing out the best in people and organisations.
She works with small to medium-sized not-for-profits to transform their cultures, share their impact stories and increase their sustainability.For more tips, strategy, support & ADHD coaching get in touch with Anj for a chat or go to www.adhdingwithanj.com for more information.